Monday, April 11, 2011

The Final Stillness

I was greeted with a beaming smile and tired eyes; there was no hostility present, no anger, just a glowing sense of peace broken up by sudden bouts of pain. This is the last time I saw my father alive.

I never understood him; nobody really did, except for maybe my brother. Other mathematicians and scientists raised their eyebrows and scratched their heads at his musings on existential mathematical theorems. I compared him to other fathers of my friends and took his lack of "normal" behaviors- riding bikes, playing catch, having tea parties- as a lack of love for me. It was in this last moment that I understood more fully that there was never any hatred or resentment towards me; maybe a frustration that I didn't find chess to exciting, and didn't like math. He latched on to anything artistic I did- took me to piano class, encouraged me (for the most part) to dance, encouraged me to sketch.

He was an artist at heart; he only went to MIT because he was one of few people in his school that tested high on an aptitude test and received a full scholarship. Instead of sketching, he now found beauty in numbers, time, space, the Universe... It was all beautiful.

I believe I have talked about the stillness in art modeling before; how it is a sort of meditation. But it is never true stillness- your heart beats, your blood flows, you shift ever so slightly with every breath in and out. The Final Stillness is when none of that energy is present anymore; it has gone elsewhere. But, I guess that even in death, we are slowly changing. It was quite stirring and terrifying to see him in the Final Stillness state; parts of me were sad, but most of me saw that it was a positive and necessary step for his soul.

His funeral was held at a Bulgarian Orthodox church; he had been baptized right before he got sick. He saw beauty in the ceremonies, saw beauty in the music, saw something that made sense; in fact, one of the last things he talked about with me was music. The Father, even though he had only known my father for a year and a half, gave his words; in short, my father tried to talk about existential math and asked questions about God and the Universe, and the Father was at once frustrated and in awe.

I think my mother put it best; he has been seeking answers to all of the questions in the Universe, and now he has them all.

I can never fully explain this process, this experience; nobody ever really can. So, I will end this with a few quotes from "Language in Thought and Action", by S. I. Hiyakawa, a book I found while drifting with my brother:

" word ever has exactly the same meaning twice... First, if we accept that the contexts of an utterance determine its meaning, it becomes apparent that since no two contexts are ever exactly the same, no two meanings can ever be exactly the same... Secondly, we can take for an example a word of 'simple' meaning like 'kettle'. But when Lynne says 'kettle', its intensional meanings to her are the common characteristics of all the kettles Lynne remembers. When Peter says 'kettle', however, its intensional meanings to him are the common characteristics of all the kettles he remembers. No matter how small or negligible the differences may be between Lynne's 'kettle' and Peter's 'kettle', there is some difference." (Page 39)

"In the course of argument, people frequently complain about words meaning different things to different people. Instead of complaining, they should accept it as a matter of course. It would be starling indeed if the word 'justice', for example, were to have the same meaning to each of the nine justices of the United States Supreme Court; then we should get nothing but unanimous decisions. It would be even more startling if 'justice' meant the same to the robber as the robbed." (Page 40)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

a short trip.

hi everyone,

i am going to go to houston, tx for the first ever houston anarchist book fair and film festival! i'll be tabling there with my radical goth distro, the ambient transient, and also for some bay area projects i'm involved with. the book fair is from april 22nd-24th. i plan on getting to town a little before and staying a little after and am looking to book some shoots around that time. during the actual weekend is not as preferable as a few days before or after, but i will consider anything.

after the book fair, i will be in new orleans until about may 5th or 6th and am looking for work there, too. i think i may get to work with jonathon narducci while we are both there, but i'm not sure yet.

then a friend and i are going to ride to southern california and i guess i'll be there [LA/IE, santa barbara areas] for a few days before coming back to oakland. -- contact me or comment here for updates on specific dates and to nail something down as far as that goes.

then i will need to go to portland shortly after.

but other than that i'm staying put in oakland!! for a few months..

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Live art modeling 101

While many people associate "model" with someone who poses for photographers, there is a whole other world of modeling! Live art modeling for art schools, museums, and private artists can potentially be a long, fulfilling career.

There aren't as many stringent requirements as fashion modeling, for example; you do not have to be a size 0 and 5'10" to be marketable. Since there are less restrictions, there is more competition.

What makes a memorable art model lies in other qualities-
-Punctuality is very, very important. Being 5 minutes late is not acceptable. If you're chronically late, especially for classes, you'll end up blacklisted and out of work.
-Preparedness. I always take a long t-shirt dress to wear for breaks, a scarf as a prop just in case, a timer in case the studio/ artist doesn't have one (happened once!); also, bring your own water and snacks. Turn off your phone!
-Charisma and demeanor. Even if you're having the worst day of your life, don't bring baggage. You can, however, put that energy into your poses. Be confident, even if you're having a "fat day" or a breakout. Nobody cares, I promise.
-Body awareness. I highly recommend taking a dance class, yoga class, or any other activity where you become more aware of your body.
-The ability to hold poses for extended periods of time. No matter how pretty and nice you are, if you fidget, "sag", or otherwise can't hold a pose well, that will annoy everyone trying to draw you. This ties directly into body awareness; know what is a good pose for your body, and what is hard to hold.

This is the most standard layout of a class I have encountered:
-Expect 2 to 3 hours for a class.
-Some classes, you hold one long pose; in some instances, it is acceptable to fall asleep in pose.
-Most classes, you will begin with a few minute-long gesture poses, then gradually move to longer poses.
-Many classes have a break time alloted.
-Always feel free to ask the director of the class about details of the class!

As a rule, I do the more daring, hard-to-hold poses first for short poses, and don't sit or lie down until the longer poses.

Make sure that you face everyone at least once! I generally face front, then move around clockwise until I've made a full circle. If I'm lying with my head one way, I'll switch which way my head is for the next lying pose.

If I do a lot of crunched up poses in a row, I'll change it up and do some elongated poses. If I notice people finishing their drawings early, I'll throw a real doozy of a pose. A "doozy" consists of anything hard to draw- anything contorted, foreshortened, abstract generally works.

In general, art modeling doesn't pay as much per hour as photographic modeling; depending on the local market, pay can range anywhere from $8.50-$50+ an hour for classes. If I can spend a week or more in a location, or have all expenses paid or enough shoots lined up, I try to art model as much as possible. There is more of an opportunity to book regular work as opposed to photographic work; a one-time high paying photographic gig though can give you the opportunity to travel a new location, and doing well at an art school or working repeatedly with artists can bring you back! Also, I have met many private artists through posing for groups and classes that do not use the internet and I would have never gotten into contact with otherwise.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

2011 so far

NYC-Boston-Durham-Knoxville-Birmingham-Nashville-Chicago-sleepover at O'Haire thanks to snow-Indianapolis-Columbus-28 hour greyhound ride-Dallas (siiiiiick)-LA to rest and cry for 2 days

Honolulu-LA-Fillmore-San Luis Obispo-Bay Area to cry for 2 days

19 hour amtrak-Portland-15 hr amtrak-Sacramento-Bay Area where my mind is breaking

soon to pass: fly "home", go to grandmother's, unplug phone for 4 days, cry; work a few jobs in Boston and NH

NYC-Boston for a few days-SoCal/ San Luis Obispo- Boston for 2 days to attend pow wow and hope hope hope my friend doesn't make me dance... my spirit is breaking, my body is breaking...

I feel bad for being such a negative person and making such a negative post, but I have nothing else to write... I think I'm done talking for a while...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Hoping for the Best...

...preparing for the worst.

It's my personal approach to modeling trips, and it has served me well. Often, things go about like I expect them to. There may be a delayed connection here, a traffic snag there, but nothing too crazy. Nothing like, say, a blizzard on I-80 right where I planned on being.

Yesterday afternoon I wrapped up my last shoot in the Bay Area. From there, I planned on heading across I-80 to Salt Lake City to pick up a few more shoots on my way home. Alas, things didn't go quite as I had planned. Checking the weather on the passes revealed a line of cars inching along a solid white roadway. Yegh. Chains or 4WD were required for all vehicles, neither of which I have. Even if I did pick up chains, I was not convinced that the pass would even be open by the time that I arrived. Plan B? Detouring south through Mojave and Las Vegas, then coming back north through Utah. Ouch.

It can be tempting to schedule shoots thisclose together. Wrap up one shoot at 2, make the half hour drive to the next spot, start shooting again at 3. Finish shooting in one city in the evening, drive 8 hours to the next and be shooting again the next morning. But it's a gamble. Appointments run over. Construction and traffic can wreak havoc on estimated drive times. Flat tires, inadequate directions, and any number of variables can throw a wrench into schedules.

Fortunately for me, I make a habit of planning for those wrenches. The extra time that I scheduled in for unpredictable delays allowed me to easily cover the additional distance. I even made it to SLC in time for lunch at one of my favorite restaurants, arranging a last-minute drawing session, and blogging- and I'll be refreshed and ready to go for my shoot this evening.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

NYC Public Transportation for Beginners

As yo may or may not know, I primarily travel in and out of the NYC area. I live two weeks in Buffalo, two weeks in NYC. I've been doing it for roughly four years, so I would say I know NYC fairly well. The question I would say that I field the most from models on their NYC trip is "How do I get around New York?"

Many first time travelers look at the NYC transit maps with a sense of confusion and potential impending doom. When I first started going to NYC 6 or 7 years ago to visit friends, I also found the transportation system a bit intimidating. But once you learn it, it isn't too difficult.

NYC Subway
The best way to get around in NYC is via subway. You can get just about anywhere underground. I suggest using hopstop ( or googlemaps ( plan your routes. I find both services to be pretty much the same. The exception is if you are going to Staten Island and need to use the Ferry. Only hopstop acknowledges the ferry as a mode of public transportation (don't know why that is.) If you have a smartphone, I suggest you get the googlemaps app. This will make charting your course much easier if you happen to get lost. (NOTE: phones only work above ground. You do not get reception in the subway tunnels.)

Be aware that NYC is big and the burroughs can be far away. It may take you two hours (or more) depending on where you are going to get from Queens to Brooklyn, so make sure you plan your schedule with enough time. Subway fare is $2.25 with free transfers, but the metrocard machines offer deals depending on how much you put on it ie: a $20 metrocard you get a $1.40 bonus. If you run out of money on your card you can recharge it at any machine.

Depending on how long you stay, you may want to consider an unlimted metro card. If you are staying a week to two weeks and plan to travel a lot, this is probably the best value for your money. I usually but a 2-week metro which costs about $55. A 1-week metro is about $27 if I remember correctly.

There are three major hubs in NYC-- Grand Central, Times SQ and Penn Station. If you even get lost, you can go to one of these big spots and chances you can either find the train you need or find a train that will connect to the one you need. If you have any doubts, these three major hubs have large subway maps and despite what people say about New Yorkers, everyone is pretty helpful and friendly.

Here is another quick tip about the subways- if you take the "number trains" (1,2, 3, 4, 5 or 6) trains keep in mind that on the uptown train the numbers go up and the downtown train the numbers will go down. The only one of the number trains that does not follow this rule is the 7. It is a cross-town train which goes from Manhattan to Queens. The numbers go down from Manhattan then back up again when you hit Queens.

LIRR & MetroNorth
Depending on who books you and where, you may have to use the Metronorth or the Long Island Railroad (LIRR.) The LIRR goes through the suburban parts of Queens and Brooklyn. MetroNorth travels into Connecticut and about an hour or two "upstate". Unfortunately, your metrocard will not work here and you will have to buy a ticket. The prices aren't horrible, usually no more than $20 round trip if you are going out really far. Buy your ticket in advance from a machine to save money. They jack to prices up if you by them on the train. Although you can get the LIRR and MetroNorth at different locations, the easiest places if there is not a stop near you are the big hubs; Penn Station for the LIRR and Grand Central for the Metro North.

New Jersey
Another place you may travel is into New Jersey. If the place in NJ it is relatively close to New York City, you can get to it using the PATH train. The big Path Station is by World Trade. One end of the PATH goes to Hoboken and the other end goes to Newark. The big transfer hub on the PATH os Journal Square. You can use your Metrocard on the PATH, however it must be a pay-per-ride. Otherwise, you can buy a PATH ticket for $1.75.

The other way to get from NYC to NJ is NJTransit. This is like an Amtrak that runs from NYC to NJ and goes to more places than the PATH. It is a bit more expensive, probably comparable to taking the LIRR or MetroNorth. You will need to use this if your destination is father than the PATH will take you.

In Closing
There are other methods of transportation depending on where you are going, shuttle buses, Ferries, etc. but generally the photographer will let you know if he or she is in a location that requires a special mode of transportation. If you are confused, ask him or her. Most people know how to get to their home or studio from Penn Station or Grand Central. If you are relying on public transportation to get around, make sure the photographer knows this ahead of time. It may affect the travel instructions he or she gives you.

Even if you master NYC travel, you may still get lost. Don't worry, everyone gets lost in New York sometimes. I still get lost. If it happens, don't panic. In most cases, as long as you are in touch with the photographer and let him or her know what is going on, they are usually pretty understanding.

I hope this helps you get around NYC.

Picture of me, taken by Keith Broadhurst

Friday, January 7, 2011

Kindred Spirits in an Alien Nation

Sometimes, once in a great while, the energy that comprises me seeks out and is aligned with energy from outside of me.

Words are superfluous.

Maybe through shaving my head I hope to accomplish some sort of anonymity, some sort of escape from what others generally perceive me as. To start anew. To be born again.

Those on my wavelength with persist; those who clash with me will disappear from my immediate train of thought, and I from theirs.

I belong to an Alien Nation.